By Dwayne MacInnes
Mayor Warren Locke and Officer Amanda Hughes walked hand in hand through the ruins of Fort Hood. If one were to look at the military base from the air, it looked like one giant pockmarked debris field. There was not a building undamaged and several burned out tanks, cars, helicopters, and trucks littered the grounds.
However, the base was still firmly within the United States Army's hands. All personnel, not on guard duty, were hunkered within the underground bunkers around the perimeter. For every day since they seceded, the Texans had fired artillery rounds and missiles into the base. They also made a few direct attacks -- all to no avail. LTG Groves refused to give in to the Texas rabble, and his expertly laid defenses were able to keep even the most fanatical attackers outside the perimeter.
However, today a new turn of events happened. There were no artillery or missile attacks. There were no snipers or suicide bombers. In fact, for the first time in months, one could hear the sounds of birds singing in the morning air.
The only other noise was that of tanks, U.S. tanks, rumbling into the base which were followed by trucks and other vehicles. Soldiers were also marching in through the battered gates in a seemingly endless number.
Locke knew that the tide of the siege was starting to shift when an element of Airborne Rangers parachuted in the previous night. A night drop was a dangerous thing; however, from the news Locke received, these drops were going on all over Texas.
When the sun rose in the morning, the rebels had pulled out of their defenses and by all accounts had left Killeen. Many had left their arms, uniforms, and vehicles strewn across the broken landscape.
Locke and Hughes, both wearing borrowed military fatigues, walked over toward General Groves who was speaking to another general. Groves noticed the two people approaching him, and he motioned for them to come over.
"These, General Burns, are our lovebirds from Killeen," LTG Groves said as he introduced the two. "They have been a guest here since the whole situation began. Locke here was the mayor of the city and if I remember right, a sworn bachelor."
Mayor Locke smiled, "Well, I guess the stress of combat brings people together. Plus, I owe Amanda my life. She brought me here and managed to get herself shot."
General Burns looked at the young police officer and smiled, "I'm amazed that everyone hasn't been shot here."
"Sir, I was wearing riot gear at the time," Hughes offered.
"So is the war over?" Warren asked.
"We have three different armies sweeping through Texas. Most are experiencing very light resistance. A fourth army in the north has the reb army pretty much tied down," stated Burns.
General Burns looked around at the wreckage strewn across the base. He noticed a lot of tanks and military vehicles from the previous century blackened and burned dotting the landscape.
"What the hell!" he said. "It looks like the rebs emptied every museum to arm their army."
LTG Groves laughed, "That is exactly what they did."
Flash Limbeck frantically looked for some way out of Austin like most of the military and civilians. The streets were more chaotic than when the riots took place a couple of weeks before. Cars were stuck in gridlock, people were carrying what few possessions they could carry, and a few fights were breaking out.
Limbeck knew that when the United States military entered into the city they would begin looking for collaborators. Being an escaped prisoner from the United States as well as a propaganda tool (many were calling him Texas Rose) he would be lucky if he was not shot on sight. Limbeck did not know where he would go, but he knew he could not stay in Austin.
Rumor had it that President Tucker had fled earlier in the day leaving his staff behind. What little military and law enforcement that remained in the city were completely overwhelmed with the task of restoring order in Austin. Fires broke out around the city and this time they were burning unchecked.
A man ran into Limbeck, and in the process, lost an armload loot. He had rings of gold, bracelets of silver, and pearl necklaces. The man had obviously looted a jewelry store.
"Watch where you are going!" yelled the man as he scrambled to pick up his ill-gotten gains.
Horns, shouts, and gunfire punctuated the air as the social order of Austin continued to break down. A man ran into the crowded streets with panic plastered on his face. Another man soon followed and proceeded to gun the first man down in front of everyone.
"Dirty bastard!" the gunman shouted. "He tried to steal my suitcase."
The gunman then realized that he was no longer carrying his suitcase and must have dropped it in the chase. The man spun around and tried to retrace his steps as he disappeared into the crowd of humanity jostling on the sidewalk.
Flash had to get off the street. It was more dangerous out here than in a building. Even with the risks of fire, Limbeck realized he prefered the relative safety of some department store or apartment building to the anarchy in the streets.
Flash ducked into a recently looted electronics store. The mesh grating over the windows lay bent on the sidewalk. The shattered glass window offered Flash the means to enter the building.
Limbeck walked into the store. The lights flickered above and revealed empty and overturned shelves. The cash register lay on its side on the floor. The till was empty save the Oil Dollars that remained untouched inside the tray.
Flash cautiously wove his way through the debris and found a back door. Limbeck tried the knob. It turned freely in his hand and the door opened to reveal a set of stairs leading down into a basement.
As Limbeck descended the stairs, he realized the cacophony of the streets receded. He flipped a light switch and a single light above offered him some illumination. The basement had not escaped the notice of the looters. Again, overturned shelves and broken electronics littered the floor.
There was a door in the far wall of the basement. Limbeck crawled over the broken shelving and made his way to the door. He tried the knob, but it did not turn. Flash noticed the keyhole in the door. He tried the knob again this time shaking the door as if he could unlock it with force.
"Go away!" shouted a voice from the other side of the door.
"You have to let me in," pleaded Limbeck.
Two gunshots burst through the wooden door and the bullets penetrated Limbeck's chest. As Flash slumped onto the floor trying futilely to staunch his spurting blood the voice on the other side of door replied, "The hell I do!"